1. The Letter
All too soon the last passenger disembarked and they brought up the gangplank. He looked behind him - perhaps he had missed them. However, he found that, no, his eyes had not deceived him. He turned back to face the ship but no-one else had appeared in the short time he was looking in the wrong direction. They're not here; they're not coming. However, there was always hope and it had not yet been completely destroyed.
Círdan - Círdan! - approached and handed him a folded up piece of paper.
"Círdan?" he asked, but Círdan could not give him the answer he was looking for and wordlessly shook his head. Elrond sighed and looked down at the paper in his hands. It had his name on the front in a hand similar to his own. Turning it over he found the seal of the King of Gondor and Arnor on the back.
He could no longer stand and took a few quick steps to a nearby bench to sit down. He knows; he has always known. He did not need to open the letter, it would only tell him that which he feared had come to pass. He turned the letter over, noticing how the paper shook with the trembling of his hands. The moment he opened it he would destroy every shred of hope he ever had, but he knew it must be done and it must be done before he went home.
Taking a deep breath Elrond broke the seal and unfolded the paper.
I hope you and mother are well. Elrohir and I are fine as always, although he urges me to write faster so we can send this letter with Círdan. Middle-earth has changed much since you left and we are pleased to say it is, for the most part for the better. Although there is not yet peace and there may never be, we no longer live in fear as our enemies are not much different from ourselves. Elrohir and I have been spending time with the Rangers, helping to rebuild that which has been lost during the war with the Shadow. It is a rewarding job to see the land restored to that we which remember from long ago.
We write with bad news, however, as Arwen died in Lothlórien last winter. We were in the North when we heard and we rushed to Minas Tirith. When we arrived there we were told she had left and we spent some time trying to find her. When we eventually reached Lothlórien we were too late to see her, only to bury her. She now rests on Cerin Amroth and the elves of Lórien assure us that she died in peace.
Be assured, father, that she was happy until the death of Estel for he passed away in the spring. Gondor and Arnor have prospered under his rule and he proved himself a worthy King, and Arwen a good Queen. Their son, Eldarion, now rules in his stead and in speaking to him he told us his father did not suffer at the end and it was by his choice. He proved himself wise for he was old by this time and soon unable to make important decisions. Eldarion was well-trained for the role and is managing well.
The letter gripped tightly in one hand, Elrond brought the other to his face. He had known Estel would not live forever even when he fostered him, but his death still struck at his heart. It was hard to look at a small boy and imagine him as a man. It was harder still to imagine the strong man he left to be old.
He had been prepared for Arwen's since he left Middle-earth, but was unprepared for the effect it now had on him. He remembered holding his only daughter when she was first born, never having any idea this would be her final fate. He wondered if he did the right thing by allowing her to marry Estel, but he knew that if she were here now she would not be as happy as she had been the last few years.
He was determined to carry on reading, hoping the letter contained happier tidings and fearing it did not.
Imladris is now empty, as are the other homes of the Elves. We are continuing its role as a sanctuary and Eldarion and his sisters are on their way now. They grieve at the loss of their parents and have expressed a wish to see where they grew up and to hear more about them. We wish to know our nieces and nephew better and to serve Eldarion as we served Estel.
Elrond smiled. He would have liked to have seen his grandchildren but he was glad they still had relatives they can turn to. He briefly wondered if they were anything like their parents or perhaps their grandparents, but now he would never know.
We have not yet tired of Middle-earth and as the last ship is about to sail we must make our choice. Long ago we agreed that our decision would be taken jointly and that we would share the same fate. The children of our brother and sister need us yet and we can do good here. It was not an easy choice to make as we did not want to cause you more grief. It is our decision to make and we make it freely.
We are staying in Middle-earth. We know how hard his will be for you to read and doubly hard to tell the news to mother. We sincerely wished to spare you the pain but find we cannot. We are unsure of our final fate and how many years we have left to spend, but we will be using them wisely. We have promised Eldarion our help wherever he wishes it and for the moment we will be in Imladris, although I don't think we will be staying in one place for very long for we have grown used to much travelling.
Estel and Arwen wished for us to give you and mother their love when we saw you, but we will have to be content with telling you this way. Do not despair, Ada, for we are happy and did not take this decision lightly. Our only regret is not being able to see Nana again.
Here Elrond noticed there were a few spots on the paper which were slightly crackly as if they had been wet but since dried.
All our love,
Elladan and Elrohir.
Elrond folded the paper back up and tucked it into his robe. He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering his children when they were still a family and all living safely in Imladris. He had seen the effect on men and women when they lost a child and he never expected it to happen to himself. He certainly never expected to lose all his children to Middle-earth. When Celebrían left he had thought that one day they would all be together again, not once thinking that it would never happen.
He was filled with regrets. Would it be different if he had never fostered Aragorn; if Arwen had been in Imladris while he was growing up; if he had forbidden them to marry? Most of his regrets he had thought long over and come to the conclusion that he would not have done anything different, although that hadn't stopped him thinking about them. If he had stayed in Middle-earth, waited longer to see his wife, would he have been able to convince Elladan and Elrohir to sail with him? As soon as he thought it Elrond realised it would not have made a difference since he had not able to convince his sons to sail before.
More than ever he did not want his children to be unhappy and he certainly did not want to be the cause of their unhappiness. He had so many hopes and dreams for them when they were born but he knew they had to follow their own path, not one he laid out for them. He could only hope to nudge them in the right direction. In a way they were following his dreams now that Elladan and Elrohir were helping the Men of Middle-earth to make it theirs again. Hopefully, he thought, this time the Shadow had been vanquished forever and would not threaten it again.
He was happy for his children he tried to remind himself. It did not change the fact that they were not with him and that the last time he saw them, many years ago, would now be the last time he would ever see them. He tried to remind himself they were not lost, yet it amounted to the same thing. The grief he now felt was almost too much to bear and he hurried home before his own tears fell.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.